You could be forgiven for at times doubting that Nicklas Backstrom would ever win a Cup, but he did, gosh darn it, so it’s time to stop calling him underrated. Now he’s just rated.
|19.7||time on ice per game|
|51.6||5-on-5 shot-attempt percentage, adjusted|
|61.6||5-on-5 goal percentage, adjusted|
About this visualization: This series of charts made by Micah Blake McCurdy of hockeyviz.com shows various metrics for the player over the course of the 2016-17 season. A short description of each chart:
Ho hum, just another 20-goal, 70-point season for Nicky Backstrom.
This year found Backstrom hosting bunches of wingers on his line as Trotz adjusted lines throughout the year. Despite that variability, Backstrom consistently helped his teammates outshoot and outscore opponents, sporting a team-high 61.6 goals-for percentage during 5-on-5 play. And for yet another year, Backstrom quarterbacked the Caps power play to absurd success – namely 41 goals, approximately 9 per hour, a rate that has stayed stable for Backstrom throughout the Trotz era.
That success continued in the postseason — which had not always been a safe assumption for Backstrom– as he recorded a pivotal overtime game-winner against Columbus and racked up points despite mostly defensive deployments until, whoops, he broke his finger in two places. Backstrom inexplicably returned and continued to contribute until the team won the Cup, which Backstrom was physically unable to lift without help from Ovechkin, which has some poetic resonance.
There is nothing more you can ask from the best center in Washington, a player who, despite winning the championship, being an all-star, outscoring his draft class, and getting handed the Cup second remains underrated because that just sorta seems to be how he likes it.
Just kidding. This is the real final thing. Backstrom was the second person to hold the Cup. Ovechkin supervised in case Backstrom’s jammed up hand caused trouble.
Now that he’s a Stanley Cup champ, can we still call Backstrom underrated? With two years left on his contract, are we looking at the end of his time in DC?
Read more: Japers’ Rink
Headline photo: Cara Bahniuk
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